Guide History and Hope: The International Humanitarian Reader (International Humanitarian Affairs)

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He was charged with fraudulent bankruptcy and a warrant for his arrest was issued. Thus, he was forced to leave Geneva and never returned to his home city.

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In the following years, national societies were founded in nearly every country in Europe. The project resonated well with patriotic sentiments that were on the rise in the late-nineteenth-century, and national societies were often encouraged as signifiers of national moral superiority. In a rather short period of time, the Red Cross gained huge momentum as an internationally respected movement, and the national societies became increasingly popular as a venue for volunteer work.

More significant than the honor of the prize itself, this prize marked the overdue rehabilitation of Jean-Henri Dunant and represented a tribute to his key role in the formation of the Red Cross. Dunant died nine years later in the small Swiss health resort of Heiden. Only two months earlier his long-standing adversary Gustave Moynier had also died, leaving a mark in the history of the Committee as its longest-serving president ever.

In , the Geneva Convention was revised for the first time. Shortly before the beginning of the First World War in , 50 years after the foundation of the ICRC and the adoption of the first Geneva Convention, there were already 45 national relief societies throughout the world. With the outbreak of World War I , the ICRC found itself confronted with enormous challenges that it could handle only by working closely with the national Red Cross societies. Red Cross nurses from around the world, including the United States and Japan, came to support the medical services of the armed forces of the European countries involved in the war.

By the end of the war, the Agency had transferred about 20 million letters and messages, 1. Furthermore, due to the intervention of the Agency, about , prisoners were exchanged between the warring parties, released from captivity and returned to their home country. The organizational card index of the Agency accumulated about 7 million records from to The card index led to the identification of about 2 million POWs and the ability to contact their families. The right to access the index is still strictly restricted to the ICRC.

During the entire war, the ICRC monitored warring parties' compliance with the Geneva Conventions of the revision and forwarded complaints about violations to the respective country. When chemical weapons were used in this war for the first time in history, the ICRC vigorously protested against this new type of warfare. Even without having a mandate from the Geneva Conventions, the ICRC tried to ameliorate the suffering of civil populations. In territories that were officially designated as "occupied territories", the ICRC could assist the civilian population on the basis of the Hague Convention 's "Laws and Customs of War on Land" of This convention was also the legal basis for the ICRC's work for prisoners of war.

A total of camps throughout Europe were visited by 41 delegates from the ICRC until the end of the war. The pictures showed the prisoners in day-to-day activities such as the distribution of letters from home. The intention of the ICRC was to provide the families of the prisoners with some hope and solace and to alleviate their uncertainties about the fate of their loved ones.

After the end of the war, between and , the ICRC organized the return of about , prisoners to their home countries. In , the task of repatriation was handed over to the newly founded League of Nations , which appointed the Norwegian diplomat and scientist Fridtjof Nansen as its "High Commissioner for Repatriation of the War Prisoners". His legal mandate was later extended to support and care for war refugees and displaced persons when his office became that of the League of Nations "High Commissioner for Refugees".

Projects and events

Nansen, who invented the Nansen passport for stateless refugees and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in , appointed two delegates from the ICRC as his deputies. It was the only Nobel Peace Prize awarded in the period from to In , the International Committee of the Red Cross adopted a change in its policy regarding the selection of new members. Until then, only citizens from the city of Geneva could serve in the Committee.

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  8. This limitation was expanded to include Swiss citizens. As a direct consequence of World War I, a treaty was adopted in which outlawed the use of suffocating or poisonous gases and biological agents as weapons.

    Canadian international humanitarian assistance - Humanitarian Practice Network

    The events of World War I and the respective activities of the ICRC significantly increased the reputation and authority of the Committee among the international community and led to an extension of its competencies. As early as in , a draft proposal for an additional convention for the protection of the civil population in occupied territories during an armed conflict was adopted by the International Red Cross Conference. Unfortunately, most governments had little interest in implementing this convention, and it was thus prevented from entering into force before the beginning of World War II.

    The Red Cross' response to the Holocaust has been the subject of significant controversy and criticism. As early as May , the ICRC was criticized for its indifference to Jewish suffering and death—criticism that intensified after the end of the war, when the full extent of the Holocaust became undeniable. One defense to these allegations is that the Red Cross was trying to preserve its reputation as a neutral and impartial organization by not interfering with what was viewed as a German internal matter. The Red Cross also considered its primary focus to be prisoners of war whose countries had signed the Geneva Convention.


    The activities of the Committee were similar to those during World War I: visiting and monitoring POW camps, organizing relief assistance for civilian populations, and administering the exchange of messages regarding prisoners and missing persons. By the end of the war, delegates had conducted 12, visits to POW camps in 41 countries. The Central Information Agency on Prisoners-of-War Agence centrale des prisonniers de guerre had a staff of 3,, the card index tracking prisoners contained 45 million cards, and million messages were exchanged by the Agency.

    One major obstacle was that the Nazi -controlled German Red Cross refused to cooperate with the Geneva statutes including blatant violations such as the deportation of Jews from Germany and the mass murders conducted in the Nazi concentration camps. Moreover, two other main parties to the conflict, the Soviet Union and Japan, were not party to the Geneva Conventions and were not legally required to follow the rules of the conventions.

    During the war, the ICRC was unable to obtain an agreement with Nazi Germany about the treatment of detainees in concentration camps, and it eventually abandoned applying pressure in order to avoid disrupting its work with POWs. The ICRC was also unable to obtain a response to reliable information about the extermination camps and the mass killing of European Jews, Roma, et al.

    After November , the ICRC achieved permission to send parcels to concentration camp detainees with known names and locations. Because the notices of receipt for these parcels were often signed by other inmates, the ICRC managed to register the identities of about , detainees in the concentration camps and delivered about 1. The choice of the inexperienced Rossel for this mission has been interpreted as indicative of his organization's indifference to the "Jewish problem", while his report has been described as "emblematic of the failure of the ICRC" to advocate for Jews during the Holocaust.

    This agreement was bound by the condition that these delegates would have to stay in the camps until the end of the war. Louis Haefliger prevented the forceful eviction or blasting of Mauthausen-Gusen by alerting American troops. Marcel Junod — , a physician from Geneva was one of the first foreigners to visit Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped. As in World War I, it received the only Peace Prize awarded during the main period of war, to At the end of the war, the ICRC worked with national Red Cross societies to organize relief assistance to those countries most severely affected.

    In , the Committee published a report reviewing its war-era activities from 1 September to 30 June On 12 August , further revisions to the existing two Geneva Conventions were adopted. The Geneva convention "relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War" may have been the second Geneva Convention from a historical point of view because it was actually formulated in Geneva , but after it came to be called the third Convention because it came later chronologically than the Hague Convention.

    Also, the additional protocols of 8 June were intended to make the conventions apply to internal conflicts such as civil wars. Today, the four conventions and their added protocols contain more than articles, a remarkable expansion when compared to the mere 10 articles in the first convention. Since , non-Swiss individuals have been allowed to serve as Committee delegates abroad, a task which was previously restricted to Swiss citizens. On 16 October , the UN General Assembly decided to grant the ICRC observer status for its assembly sessions and sub-committee meetings, the first observer status given to a private organization.

    The resolution was jointly proposed by member states and introduced by the Italian ambassador, Vieri Traxler , in memory of the organization's origins in the Battle of Solferino. An agreement with the Swiss government signed on 19 March , affirmed the already long-standing policy of full independence of the Committee from any possible interference by Switzerland.

    International Humanitarian Law - Security Council Briefing

    The agreement protects the full sanctity of all ICRC property in Switzerland including its headquarters and archive, grants members and staff legal immunity, exempts the ICRC from all taxes and fees, guarantees the protected and duty-free transfer of goods, services, and money, provides the ICRC with secure communication privileges at the same level as foreign embassies, and simplifies Committee travel in and out of Switzerland.

    In the s, more delegates lost their lives than at any point in its history, especially when working in local and internal armed conflicts. These incidents often demonstrated a lack of respect for the rules of the Geneva Conventions and their protection symbols.


    International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

    Among the slain delegates were:. ICRC is active in the Afghanistan conflict areas and has set up six physical rehabilitation centers to help land mine victims. Their support extends to the national and international armed forces, civilians and the armed opposition. They regularly visit detainees under the custody of the Afghan government and the international armed forces, but have also occasionally had access since to people detained by the Taliban. This move, led by the American Red Cross, expanded the international activities of the Red Cross movement beyond the strict mission of the ICRC to include relief assistance in response to emergency situations which were not caused by war such as man-made or natural disasters.

    The ARC already had great disaster relief mission experience extending back to its foundation. The formation of the League, as an additional international Red Cross organization alongside the ICRC, was not without controversy for a number of reasons. The ICRC had, to some extent, valid concerns about a possible rivalry between both organizations. The foundation of the League was seen as an attempt to undermine the leadership position of the ICRC within the movement and to gradually transfer most of its tasks and competencies to a multilateral institution.

    In addition to that, all founding members of the League were national societies from countries of the Entente or from associated partners of the Entente. The original statutes of the League from May contained further regulations which gave the five founding societies a privileged status and, due to the efforts of Henry P.